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2009 Hyundai GenesisI've never hidden the fact that I like Hyundai cars and SUVs. I like the emphasis on safety and value-for-money, and there are some real gems in their product line: The Accent SE, the Azera, the Santa Fe, and the soon-to-be-defunct Tiburon. But the Genesis has to be the Hyundai to end all Hyundais -- a full-size, leather-lined luxury car for less than the price of an entry-level Mercedes. It almost seems to good to be true... so is it? Find out in my 2009 Hyundai Genesis test drive. -- Aaron Gold


Photo © Aaron Gold

October 30, 2008 at 8:17 am
(1) Mike in Minn says:

Maybe this is exactly the luxury car for economic times like this.

October 30, 2008 at 9:15 am
(2) Mark Proulx says:

I said it before and I’ll say it again…

25 years ago, Hyundai was in the personal computer business. No kidding. I bought one. I quickly learned that this was a grotesque mistake due to its poor quality and unreliability. One of the happiest days of my life was when I gleefully heaved the POS into the solid waste transfer station. (This was before we learned about proper PC disposal.) I swore right then and there that I would never buy another anything with a Hyundai name on it. I meant it then and I still mean it.

I know that connecting my experience with the computer to their current cars may be neither rational nor fair. So I’m not rational or fair on this one. So be it.

October 30, 2008 at 9:48 am
(3) Cap'n Jon says:

Yep, the old Excels were made poorly, but they were affordable. For a family with small children just barely getting by, getting a brand new vehicle was nearly impossible until Hyundai showed up. Yes, they weren’t put together like the more expensive cars, but the damn things would run forever! Ours lasted 11 years, without a problem. We passed it on to our son, who drove it for two, and sold it. As far as I know, it’s still running today! Just because they didn’t make a good car 20 years ago, doesn’t mean they haven’t learned how to do so now. If Chrysler had tried to learn from their mistakes perhaps they wouldn’t be in such bad shape. Thanks to their poor planning, they produced the Durango, the most problem plagued vehicle I’ve ever had the misfortune to own. Guess I should have kept the Hyundai!

October 30, 2008 at 10:56 am
(4) LWATCDR says:

Gee did you like this car? Maybe just a little. Sounds like a good car for someone that wants a luxury car. I am not a Lexus fan. They are too soft for my tastes but that is just a matter of taste.
To Mark. Well my parents bought a car way back in the early 70s. It sucked. It rusted, the paint faded the AC broke… It was a Toyota. Guess what companies can get better.

October 30, 2008 at 11:59 am
(5) Dfi says:

I too am one of those guys who holds a grudge when burned by a brand name. My first car was a Hyundai Excel hatch (you know the one) that had a number of problems during the year that I owned it. The clutch actually tore itself to pieces, I mean metal ripped like it was paper. Moving on to other ventures with Toyota (twice), Chevy, Dodge, Pontiac, VW, and now settled in with Infiniti; I can say I’ve had problems of one kind or another with each and every one. Some more severe than others causing me to almost swear off American brand names altogether.
On the flip side, my father is a three time Hyundai owner who never does any maintenance (i.e. no oil changes, tire rotations, or scheduled maintenance intervals). Dangerous, I know, but seeing as how he’s gotten well over 5 years out of each vehicle while driving them into the ground is some testament to their current quality.
So does this mean I will be will be purchasing a Hyundai in the near future, probably not. But I do respect how far they have come in their attempts to correct their tarnished image and applaud their ambition in bringing high class products to market. Now if only Chrysler would start take some notes and learn from this example. Not holding my breath there.

October 30, 2008 at 12:04 pm
(6) J to the G says:

@mark proulx: seriously?

because a computer from years ago sucked you wouldn’t even consider a car that gets rave reviews and is turning the luxury car segment upside down?

I didn’t like wine when I was in college… years later I got married at a winery.

October 30, 2008 at 1:26 pm
(7) Mark Proulx says:

J to the G:

Yep. Experiences that engender visceral hatred have a tendency to do this to me. I already said that it might be neither rational nor fair.

October 30, 2008 at 6:42 pm
(8) J to the G says:

@Mark Proulx: that computer really messed you up… haha.

Did it wipe out your high scores on Kings Quest 1?

October 30, 2008 at 7:17 pm
(9) hawaiian don says:

My question here is if I’ve got 33-40 odd grand to drop on a car, do I reaaly want to put it into a Hyundai. I don’t mean to sound snobbish…but no way! Hyundai is far too unestablished to take THAT much of my hard earned money. I’ll take a chance on a 20k upstart, but once you get into this rarified air(at least pour moi), I’m gonna stick with a Lexus, Bimmer, Caddy…

October 30, 2008 at 10:57 pm
(10) Shaun says:

I am one of those jaded individuals who is hesitant to like this vehicle because of it’s brand name and my own past experience, but darned if your review didn’t pique my interest. You have been touting how surprisingly good Hyundai’s have become for a while now, so much so that sometimes I wonder if you get a kickback…I mean come on, it’s a Hyundai ;) . It just all seems too good to be true.
In all honesty though I might actually go check this one out and see if they could manage to steal our money away from Honda and Toyota. I have been wanting a more luxurious car for a while, and as Mike in Minn said, “Maybe this is exactly the luxury car for economic times like this.”

October 30, 2008 at 11:10 pm
(11) Aaron Gold - Cars Guide says:

Shaun — With the Genesis selling for only $33,000, how can they possibly afford to give me a kickback? :)

I’ve started to think seriously about asking Hyundai if they’d give us a long-term (1 year) loan of a Genesis. I sure would like to see how all the gizmos and gadgets hold up over a year of driving. Don’t know if they’d go for it, though. — Aaron

October 31, 2008 at 9:06 am
(12) IGB says:

Not buyin’ it.

It’s a Hyundai, (like sunday or monday LOL!)

A friend just bought a new loaded Infinity M35 for $38k marked down from $52k. The current economy is very unfriendly to cheap Korean luxury cars when you can get “real” luxury cars for cheap.

October 31, 2008 at 1:08 pm
(13) Jeff says:

Using that logic one should be able to drive this new Hyundai off the lot for about 20k or so. Just one more reason to check it out.

October 31, 2008 at 5:49 pm
(14) IGB says:

You might be right Jeff…next year, I’ll give you $10000 for it.

I should add that at the rate Hyundai has been advancing, I may be posting the same line in 10 years but substitute Hyundai for Infinity and Chery (generic Chinese manufacturer) for Hyundai.

October 31, 2008 at 6:25 pm
(15) Carlos says:

hahahahah, that’s funny about the Mercerdes with smart cruise. I’d probably be crapping my pants too with my first outing … hahah . man

November 1, 2008 at 7:33 am
(16) Bryan W says:

(9) hawaiian don says:
My question here is if I’ve got 33-40 odd grand to drop on a car, do I reaaly want to put it into a Hyundai. I don’t mean to sound snobbish…but no way

I agree with you. Even Honda, who’s been around twice as long, doesn’t try to play that game with the Honda brand. That’s why they created the Acura brand; to avoid these problems. Toyota has crossed this line though with the Land Cruiser, Tundra, et al. The Tundra is selling very well, everywhere, and it’s a very expensive truck in its class. The last time I checked, you could option one out to just under $70,000. I don’t know how many $60,000 Tundras they’re selling, but I still think Hyundai’s biting off more than they can chew with the Genesis. For now.

Like Don said, you can get an entry-level Mercedes, Lexus, BMW, or Infiniti for that kind of cash. Why not get a C300, IS250, 328, or G35. They’re better cars, carry more prestige, and don’t look quite as obnoxious.

Maybe the biggest turn-off to each of Hyundai’s attempts at a “luxury” car is they look like a cheap car that somebody has modified to look more like a luxury car. Because of this, I think Hyundai has basically defined its Hyundai nameplate luxury cars forever as wanna-be’s. Whether they have goods to compete with the Europeans doesn’t matter; they’ve already ruined their chances with me by looking like a “fake”.

It reminds me of a popular Web site that has collected photos of heavily modified cars whose owners have attempted to make them appear like something they’re not. The one that standards out in my mind was a Honda Del Sol that some guy spent a lot of time on to look like a BMW Z3. Why? Not only will NOBODY think you’re driving a BMW, you just come off looking like an idiot. You would look far cooler if you’d just drive a Del Sol that looked like a Del Sol.

And a Hyundai owner would look cooler and more respectable if they just owned up to being a Hyundai owner and life their Sonata or Elantra alone. There’s NOTHING wrong with Hyundai cars that aren’t try to be something they’re not. But please don’t try to put a Hyundai logo on a $40,000 car. It’s just a Hyundai trying to be a Lexus.

November 1, 2008 at 8:07 am
(17) Bryan W says:

Aaron said “Not even resale values, a traditional Hyundai weak point: The Genesis has higher 3-year residuals than the BMW 5-series, Mercedes E350/E550, Infiniti M45 and Lexus GS460.”.

Pardon the layman question, Aaron, but what exactly are “3-year residuals” and how do you determine anything out to 3 years related to resale value on a new model?

November 1, 2008 at 8:27 am
(18) Mike in Minn says:

I think that what Hawaiian Don and Bryan W are saying encompasses the hurdle that this car has to leap. Maybe in this market Hyundai will have to mark it down further to continue to undercut the European, Japanese, and American marques. This is particularly the case since they decided to keep the Hyundai badge.

November 1, 2008 at 1:35 pm
(19) Aaron Gold - Cars Guide says:

@Bryan W — Good question, my wife asked the same thing. A company called Automotive Lease Guide does analysis of vehicles and the marketplace and sets the residual values that are considered the standard for the market. When a new vehicle comes out, they give it a thorough going-over and set the initial residual values. They predicted 3-year residuals of 49% for the Genesis 3.8 and 50% for the Genesis 4.6.

Re: Your previous comment — I respect your opinion, but I really think you ought to try test-driving the Genesis and see what you think. I drive a *lot* of cars (that’s my job!) and I honestly think the Genesis is one of the nicest I’ve driven — but people judge it because of the brand name. A friend on the marketing side of things did a tape-over-the-badge experiment with the Genesis while trying to sell the car for executive transport. The potential clients were impressed, and when the badges came off, no one could believe it was a Hyundai. You should visit the Hyundai dealership, take a test drive, and see what you think (then use the Write A Review link on the review page to tell us!) — Aaron

November 1, 2008 at 6:18 pm
(20) Aaron Gold - Cars Guide says:

@Ice Cream Jonsey — Ah, the Sentra. (For those scratching their heads, Jonsey and Jeff are old friends.) As I recall, that was the only car where the oil leaked *inside* the car. But I perfected my stick-shift technique on that Sentra. It was anything but scary.

Jeff’s 1985 Shelby Turbo Charger… now *that* was scary. I drove it once, and when the turbo started pouring on the boost, the whole front end would start to shake. Fun, but scary fun!!!

November 1, 2008 at 10:22 pm
(21) hawaiian don says:

I would be veeeery careful about BUYING a car using projected residual values. If you’re leasing, that posted number becomes a fixed one in the lease contract. But if you BUY and the car turns out to known for problems, poor sales or whatever, its resale 3 years from now could be down in Daewoo territory. Also where does that residual number come from? If it comes from American Hyundai(credit), then they could be artificially pumping up the residuals so that the lease payment is lower and therefore the car can be marketed easily. This is a subsidy, plain and simple. Everyone does it, but nobody admits that its a subsidy. It’s a great way to get a lot of units on the road. But it can backfire because the car gets a “cheap buy” reputation overall. This is known as a “national program” deal…you know, those ads that draw you into the dealership. As long as you don’t change any part of the deal, it’s a great way to get a lot of car for a little money!

May 31, 2011 at 2:08 pm
(22) Jackie H. says:

This is no lie, I have a lemon of a car which is a Hyundai Genesis!!
Just after 15,000 miles being put on the car I start to have problems. I couldn’t drive over 40 mph without the car hesitating terribly. It seems the gadget that controls the check engine light doesn’t work properly, which caused the problem with the engine to get worse before it could be fixed.
December 2010 the Genesis needed a new transmission and 4 months later the gear box and starter switch needed to be replaced. I just got it out the shop for electrical repairs because the brake lights were not working, it had nothing to do with bulbs it was electrical. We are talking every two months after the 1st year of driving the Genesis (2009) it has something failing on it with the transmission and electrical this is to include the steering column as well. The car is a nice looking car but that really doesn’t matter if it’s going to be a constant problem!!!

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